Trademarks & Genericide
The process of genericization can happen in several ways, the most common one being that the company captures the whole market for the product and becomes widely popular like in the the case of Xerox Corporation which was the leading copier industry that gradually became so popular that the term ‘xeroxing’ was used instead of photocopying which led it to be genericized. Other times companies themselves can also unintentionally weaken their trademarks and push them towards genericide through word-of-mouth marketing or by advertising the use of the trademark inappropriately which allows other companies to take advantage of their trademark to promote their own. Genericide ultimately leads to the trademark losing its protection through cancellation. Under trademark law, genericide is a defense to trademark infringement. When a trademark is used that has become generic over time it is not considered as an infringement, aspirin; is one of the earliest examples of genericide.
One sign that a trademark is on the road to be genericized is that when a trademarked term is added to the dictionary. One popular example of this is “google” as a verb, which was added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2006. ‘To google’ these days commonly refers to search online, not specifically using the Google search engine which may destroy the value of Google as a trademark. Even though the term google actually came out of the misspelled word ‘googol’, it has become tremendously popular which may be causing it to lose its distinctiveness.
In conclusion it can be said that the trademark law stands to protect the owners of a company as well as its consumers. Any trademarks that the court sees is used in bad faith or is misused can be genericized. Genericization cannot be predicted by the dominance of a company or its originality but in other terms of how the public uses the term in ways other then to signify the company. Wether big or small, companies, especially like Google face the dangers of genericide as technology evolves and meaning of terms are constantly changed.
By: Shizra Saqib